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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2003
Los Angeles County Department of Coroner: 19000 cases a year, 10 percent of these cases homicides. 20 autopsies per day. 180 embloyees. The second largest department of coroner in the USA and the only one world wide with a gift shop (aptly named Skeletons in the Closet).
This book introduces you to the tasks, history and famous cases of LA department of coroner. DEATH IN PARADISE opens with an overview of the coroner's tasks and a brief history of the department, which both were interesting for me. The next chapter concerns early coroner cases from the days, when the west was wild (You think today's crime rates are extremely high? Well, you'll be surprised to read that in 1850, when California joined the union, Los Angeles with its population of about 4000, had one homicide per day!!!)
The early coroner cases chapter is followed by the most interesting part of the whole book, a lengthy account of coroner's cases involving the rich and famous, from suicides of now long forgotten movie stars of the silent film era to celebrity death of today. Did you know that in 1932 successful actress Peg ENTWISTLE jumped to her death from the big "H" in the famous HOLLYWOOD sign (which read HOLLYWOODLAND by then)? Lots and lots of celebrity deaths are covered: the shooting of mobster Bugsy SIEGEL. The assassination of presidential candidate Robert KENNEDY in 1968. An escalating domestic violence incident, which cost the live of movie star Lana TURNER`s lover Johnny STOMPANATO, when TURNER`s teenage daughter stabbed him. The demise of folk legend Janis JOPLIN due to an overdose. Marilyn MONROE's suicide. The terrifying slaughter of the "black dahlia", later the subject of a bestselling novel (this part of the book is especially gruesome). The death of journalist Ruben SALAZAR, who died during a 1970 riot when a police man accidentially fired a tear gas projectile in his face. And many, many more...
It goes without saying that book features the horrifying deaths of Sharon TATE and Nicole BROWN SIMPSON - would a LA true crime book be complete without these infamous cases?
There are many enlightning black and white photos in the book, which nicely accompany the interesting text. Believe me, this book is very compelling reading and will appeal to every true crime buff, Los Angeles citizen or fan of the QUINCY TV series. It is a real page turner.
My main complaint is that the book is really short. It has about 190 pages, but please consider that the authors use double spacing, so you likely finish the book in one evening or two. I was also sometimes disappointed, because I had prefered to be informed about some celebrity deaths in greater detail (most cases are told in two or three pages).
P.S.: Do NOT believe the promotional blurb on the back cover (a quote from HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry FLYNT: "Blanche and Schreiber have finally done the impossible - that even I could not achieve - publish a book with photographs that should be censored.") There are not that many horrifying pictures in the book. If you want to see really shocking true crime photos better buy SHOTS IN THE DARK or the even more disturbing DEATH SCENES.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2001
A wise man once said, "Give the people what they want." And in "Death in Paradise," Messrs. Schreiber and Blanche do just that by providing readers with all the chilling details of modern America's most heinous crimes. That such crimes happen to occur within the purview of the L.A. County Coroner's Office should tell you something. Is it any mistake that the most engrossing cases of homicide have, for the most part, taken place in Hollyweird's backyard? A happy coincidence, surely, from the P.O.V. of studio execs and La-la Land's fourth estate.
Schreiber and Blanche compile their history aiming to enlighten and entertain, and they score on both counts. This is one of those "carry-it-with-you-everywhere-till-you're-done" reads, and it makes the perfect gift for folks who love "Mysteries and Scandals" and reruns of "Homicide." It's also great as a reference book on everything from the Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel to The Night Stalker and O.J.
A must for anyone interested in L.A. or murder!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
well - you should. "Death in Paradise" was definitely not all it was cracked up to be. Some of the pictures were great while others were the same photos that everyone who's into this genre, has seen at one time or another. The factoid stories read like fluff & don't offer anything new or enlightening on those unsolved cases of yesteryear. It looks good on my coffee table though.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2000
I read this book recently. It is similar to Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon", and it contains some of the same inaccurate information. One mistake that is unique to this book is the caption for a picture of Thelma Todd, which says "Thelma Todd as Patsy Kelly". Actually Thelma Todd worked with Patsy Kelly in a film series, rather than portraying her. One of the photos of the death scene has been reversed, which looks odd, particularly as it is right next to an unreversed photo. The name of the restaurant that Thelma Todd ran was "Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe", not "Thelma Todd's Roadside Rest", a mistake repeated from "Hollywood Babylon". The name of the Cafe manager, Rudy Schafer, is mispelled as "Shafer". The story in the Peg Entwhistle section that numerous girls commited sucide by jumping off the big "Hollywood" sign also comes from "Hollywood Babylon". Altogether, this book impresses me about the same way as "Hollywood Babylon".It does catalog the various mysteries and scandals of the area, but it it not all that accurate, and it may be offensive to some.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2006
This book takes readers behind the scenes with the L.A. County Coroner's Office, revealing the details of some of the most notorious deaths of the twentieth century.

Beginning with Wild West-era lynchings and turn-of-the-century mass-homicides in Chinatown, the authors demonstrate how the coroner's job has evolved into a state-of-the-art, multi-million-dollar operation responsible for cleaning up the 200 deaths that occur in L.A. every day. In addition to the science of death, Death in Paradise also examines the cultural and political atmospheres surrounding L.A.'s most infamous murders, suicides, and overdoses: from Barbara La Marr to Bugsy Siegel, the Black Dahlia to Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin to Bobby Kennedy.

Interesting book but not enough decent picures.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2001
I just loved this book. My mom got it for me for my birthday and I read it in one day. The pictures are great (some are pretty gruesome, though) but what I really liked was learning about how the coroner solves cases, especially in the old days. They didn't have modern techniques like DNA and they had to rely more on witnesses and real investigation. Some of the cases were never solved, though, which is a shame because nowadays with all the high-tech stuff they probably would be.
This is a very, very cool book that I would recommend to anyone interested in Hollywood history.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 1999
200 deaths a day? I'm a Lieutenant for the LA County Coroner and I can tell you that there isn't anywhere near 200 deaths a day. Who are these authors? I've never heard of them!!! And how in the world did they get a book deal?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 1998
A fascinating history of the Los Angeles Coronor's office, but must be viewed askance from a factual standpoint. Peg Entwistle's named is misspelled, and it is stated that a good number of people have jumped from the Hollywoodland sign (actually, Entwistle is the sole suicide thus far). The Barbara La Marr chapter seems culled from Adela Rogers St. Johns, a very unreliable source. Still, a good absorbing read, if it's not taken too seriously as history.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 1998
Based solely on the chapter dealing with the 1947 slaying of Elizabeth Short, known as the Black Dahlia, it's clear that the authors have not gained access to L.A. County coroner's office files (at least in this case) but have relied on news accounts and secondary sources. Without going into detailed debunking, it suffices to say that the Black Dahlia chapter is full of errors and is not to be trusted.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 1999
Unfortunately, this book is loaded with errors and is clearly based on secondary sources. As someone has already noted, the section on Elizabeth Short offers nothing of her file, which remains sealed.
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